Category Archives: USA

Obama’s facts vs. Fact Checker McMannes

First of all, the job report numbers for August 2012 came in at 96,000 jobs. Horrific. But unemployment went down because, AGAIN, people are dropping out of the job hunting market. Obama knew these numbers last night…but didn’t say anything. Why? Well, of course, that’s why.

Second thing is the is a fantastic fib that Obama’s deputy campaign manager told about job growth under the current president. Here’s Stephanie Cutter’s quote in full from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” just so no one can accuse anyone of taking anything out of context:
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“Well, I think that worker probably has a good understanding of what’s happened over the past four years in terms of the president coming in and seeing 800,000 jobs lost on the day that the president was being sworn in, and seeing the president moving pretty quickly to stem the losses, to turn the economy around. And over the past, you know, 27 months we’ve created 4.5 million private-sector jobs. That’s more jobs than in the Bush recovery (or) in the Reagan recovery.”

You’d think that if the Obama campaign wanted to peddle outright fabrications, they’d at least do it so they weren’t so easily debunked. But you don’t have to look very hard to see that Cutter, as Obama might say, is “just making stuff up.”

She starts counting private-sector job growth under Obama in February 2010 and, sure enough, in the 29 months since then (not 27 as Cutter says), there have been 4.5 million private-sector jobs created, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But keep in mind that February 2010 was fully eight months into the economic recovery. So Cutter has simply picked the worst month under Obama as her starting point, in order to make Obama’s job growth look as impressive as possible.

So, in fairness, let’s do the same for Reagan and Bush:

In the aftermath of the 1981-82 recession, private-sector jobs bottomed out in December 1982, the month after that recession ended. Twenty-nine months later, the private sector under Reagan had created 8 million jobs — nearly twice as many as under Obama.

How about Bush? Surely job growth during his administration was worse. After all, the president keeps telling us that his predecessor’s policies “resulted in the most sluggish job growth in decades.”

Except if you use the Cutter method, the private sector created 4.7 million jobs in the 29 months after July 2003, when the job market bottomed. In other words, Bush beat Obama by his own preferred measuring technique by 200,000 jobs.

It’s worth noting, too, that jobs started growing under Bush ONE MONTH after he signed his second major tax cut into law. It chopped capital gains and dividend tax rates and accelerated the schedule for the Bush income-tax rate cuts.

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Mars Rovers Goes Viral: ‘I’m NASA and I know it’

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It’s sexy to be a scientist.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE.

A new viral video set to the tune of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” is making the rounds, paying a hilarious tribute to NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity team in the wake of the country’s obsession with its landing on Aug. 5.

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The spoof video shows a group of “NASA” members hard at work on landing the Mars rover, touting their space skills in rap form.

“I got stars on my ‘hawk and I ain’t afraid to show it,” sings a spiky-haired impersonator of NASA’s leading heartthrob, Bobak Ferdowsi, who shot to nationwide fame after video of him the night of the landing lit up the Internet.

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The chorus of the catchy tune, of course, is, “We’re NASA and we know it.”

In the video, the group — suited up in NASA-esque blue polo shirts and sitting in a dummy control room dance through the streets and rap their space terms alongside the beat.

“This is how I rove, bakin’ red rocks in my nuclear stove,” one lyric goes, accompanied by cute animations. The faux NASA nerds also show off some synchronized dance moves, featuring a woman in an American flag bikini and a man in an astronaut-style orange jumpsuit.

The video was put together by Seattle-based comedy group Satire, with the role of Bobak played by web video comedian David Hudson. It got a stamp of approval from both NASA’s official Twitter account and the verified account for the rover itself, which both retweeted the link to the legions of space fans who have been extremely vocal in their passion for all things Curiosity since the Mars landing.

“This fan-made video is AWESOME (and I know it.)” the rover tweeted, adding the hashtag “#wiggle #wiggle #wiggle as another nod to the LMFAO song. The Mohawk man himself also gave the video a thumbs up.

“Well played!” Ferdowsi tweeted.

“Video is hilarious & awesome, but don’t know that we can dance like that (see high5s for ref),” he added, poking fun at himself and his team for their well-chronicled awkward high-fives the night of the Rover landing.

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BY MEENA HART DUERSON / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012, 12:47 PM
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/mars-rover-fans-viral-video-nasa-i-article-1.1137698#ixzz23osZDy8N

Matt Damon, Elton John join in praise for George W. Bush

Elton John joins Matt Damon in praise George W. Bush’s anti-AIDS efforts | Texas on the Potomac | a Chron.com blog.

Singer Elton John is not the first person you would expect to applaud the actions of former president George W. Bush—however, last week, that’s exactly what happened.

The singer, who once called Bush “the worst thing that ever happened to America,” has developed a newfound respect for the former president after meeting him recently, and praised him for his efforts in fighting HIV and AIDS.

Elton John speaks at the 2012 international AIDS conference. (Jim Watson/AFP photo)

John said that Bush, as well as other conservative politicians have made a great impact in the lives of AIDS victims.

“We’ve seen George W. Bush and conservative American politicians pledge tens of billions to save the lives of Africans with HIV—think of all the love, think of where we’d be without it,” John said last Monday to participants of the International AIDS Conference, which took place in Washington D.C. from June 22-27.

The “Crocodile Rock” singer is not the only democratic celebrity to praise Bush’s AIDS-fighting efforts recently.

Actor Matt Damon, who supported Barack Obama in 2008 and has since become a critic, due largely in part to what he deems insignificant action in the cause of poverty and disease in Africa and elsewhere.

In a news conference during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York earlier this year, the actor praised the former president for his work with PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

“I would kiss George W. Bush on the mouth for what he did on PEPFAR,” Damon said.

PEPFAR originated in 2003 under the Bush Administration, is a “U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world,” according to pepfar.gov.

Competition Matters, Mr. President!

First off, let me say that I do not hate Pres. Obama like some of the right-wing nut jobs in our country. I also don’t automatically disagree with everything he says or does, like those aforementioned nut jobs (I mean, nobody could be wrong 100% of the time even if they tried!!). But DAMN, Mr. President, you talk on television about how you’ve lowered taxes for three years, yet directly underneath you are the words, BUSH TAX CUTS! Two months ago, you were opposed to ANY extension of these Bush tax cuts, but now…now, it’s re-election time and its time to do what works, what sells.

So what does work? More jobs? Less taxes? No….what works is ‘the government getting the hell out of the way’ and letting people compete. Capitalism…not socialism. I understand that this is his ‘FIRST’ job but surely someone has advised him on the particulars of how a job is created, right? Surely he realizes who creates these jobs, right? Certainly he must grasp the fact that high taxes, forced healthcare, more restrictions, and more regulations will hurt this country, right? Well, obviously not. Wait, you don’t think he’s doing this on purpose, do you?
Just as a chain letter or Ponzi scheme can’t work in the long run, likewise, collectivism, socialism, etc…is unsustainable in the long run because it is based on a theory that is flawed. Socialism and heavy government run systems that fail because they disregard basic principles of human behavior: incentives and competition. What’s happening in Europe, the US, and now China, can be traced back to one specific flaw that guarantees failure – governments eliminating incentives. We can feel that happening here in the US; our mentality becoming a “Why should I?” mentality.
In our economy, incentives are the backbone of driving our our country forward. Capitalism is based on the theory that COMPETITION IS REQUIRED and that INCENTIVES MATTER!
Under socialism (or liberalism) incentives play almost no role and are virtually disregarded. Socialism (or liberalism) is a philosophy that goes against the very fabric of human nature and is therefore must fail. Socialism is based on the theory that COMPETITION IS IRRELEVANT and that INCENTIVES DON’T MATTER!
Capitalism will be the biggest player in this global revival of liberty and freedom and prosperity because it prods humanity, inspires creative thinking, and instills the enterprising spirit in all human beings. Providing incentives promotes desire, effort, and efficiency. Capitalism creates wealth. Period. The government does not, never has, and all the evidence you need is in the history books…and those books speak volumes to this.
I understand some people ‘feel better’ by thinking of themselves as fair-minded and kind and wanting everyone to get everything they want. But that mentality is crippling – that type of ‘kindness’ is destructive. People must compete. People must win. People must lose. It’s in our nature, at our very core. The lazy man should not be rewarded on par with the working man. Our president disagrees with that. I understand that and I will never hate him as a person because of it. That’s a terrible thing. But facts are facts, Mr. President – – the difference between my capitalism, my Reagan-omics, my trickle-down, my less govt. and your be-all, do-all, tax-all, everything-for-all socialism is this: Capitalism works. Your philosophy does not. It never has. Never.

Latest stem-cell advance proves no need to kill embryos.

BY NANCY FRAZIER O’BRIEN – CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
TUESDAY, 28 JULY 2009
The work of two teams of Chinese scientists who created live mice from induced pluripotent stem cells is “another demonstration that researchers don’t need to destroy embryos” to achieve stem-cell advances, according to a pro-life official at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.embryonic-Stem-cells-mouseThe research done by separate teams in Shanghai and Beijing and published July 23 in the scientific journals Nature and Cell Stem Cell showed that the so-called iPS cells have “the full range of uses that embryonic stem cells are proposed for,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

“The immediate finding is that induced pluripotent stem cells, created without harming any embryos, really are as versatile as embryonic stem cells,” he said. But Doerflinger also warned in a July 27 interview with Catholic News Service that this latest breakthrough in stem-cell research shows that iPS cells are “so powerful” that researchers “might be able to put them in a human embryo and change the genetic makeup of that child and all the future generations” related to the child. “It’s an ominous thing, that they could be remaking people’s genetic traits,” he added. “It’s a powerful technology and it could be misused.”

The two Chinese teams had varying degrees of success in creating genetic duplicates of mice by reprogramming skin cells from adult mice into iPS cells and then implanting the embryos created into a surrogate mother. The first team, led by Qi Zhou of the Institute of Zoology in Beijing and Fanyi Zeng of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, reported 27 live births, starting with a mouse named Xiao Xiao or “Tiny.” All 12 of the genetic duplicates that were mated produced offspring without abnormalities; the team reported hundreds of second-generation and more than 100 third-generation mice.

The second team, headed by Shaorong Gao of the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, produced only two live births using the same technique, with one of those dying in infancy. The team is currently trying to mate the surviving mouse. In the U.S., the National Institutes of Health recently issued final guidelines for federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, requiring that such research use only embryos created for reproductive purposes at in vitro fertilization clinics and no longer needed for that purpose.

index_r2_c1 (1)The draft guidelines set standards for voluntary informed consent by those donating the embryos, and said no NIH funds would be given for research that did not meet the standards. The final guidelines, however, set up an “alternative pathway” for the approval of funding of research involving embryos donated before the new guidelines took effect or involving stem-cell lines developed in foreign countries. A working group made up of about 10 scientists and ethicists is to look at each such application on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it meets the core principles of voluntary informed consent.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, strongly criticized the final guidelines and said the debate over embryonic stem-cell research “now shifts to Congress, where some members have said even this policy does not go far enough in treating some human beings as objects to be created, manipulated and destroyed for others’ use.”

Some had predicted that President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse the limits on funding of embryonic stem-cell research established under President George W. Bush would lead to the rapid expansion of such research, particularly at the university level. But the results of a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education, published July 21, found that only 6 percent of major research universities — those with $100 million or more in federal grants — planned to increase research on human embryonic stem cells “by a large amount.”

The survey also found that most of the universities said they had increased their contribution to the indirect costs of scientific research on campus by 50 percent or more over the past five years. A federal policy established in 1991 limits the indirect costs that a university may collect on each federal research grant for expenses like photocopying, accounting and electricity.

Duncan Faces Political Battle Over Education Reform – ABC News

Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan nominated to be education secretary by Obama

Duncan Has Ear of Basketball Buddy President

Once a professional basketball player, the 6-foot-5-inch cabinet secretary also has the ear of President Barack Obama, a personal friend and long-time pick-up basketball buddy.

“We’ve played a few times since we’ve been here, haven’t played a ton,” Duncan said of the president. “We’ve both been a little bit busy.”

Since arriving in Washington, Duncan has been on the road one or two days a week, visiting schools and colleges and meeting with students, principals and teachers.

“The solutions are never going to come from Washington,” Duncan said. “So when I go out, I’m not just listening to the problems; I’m really challenging folks to come up and tell us the answers.”

This fall, Duncan, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rev. Al Sharpton will embark on a five-city tour to raise awareness of the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“The gap is absolutely, morally unacceptable,” Duncan said. Planning is in the early stages and no dates or places have been decided, he said.

Watered Down State Proficiency Standards

Making an end run around the Bush administration’s controversial No Child Left Behind law, Duncan has argued many states and districts aren’t using data to reward good teachers and some states have watered down their proficiency standards so students and parents believe they are doing much better than they are.

Despite the problems, Duncan, a former Chicago schools chief, insists the states are ready for education reform.

Read the Entire Article: Duncan Faces Political Battle Over Education Reform – ABC News

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First Ever Photos – Liquid Water found on Mars!?

Liquid Saltwater is Likely Present on Mars, New Analysis Shows

awater-drops-mars-phoenix-landerSalty, liquid water has been detected on a leg of the Mars Phoenix Lander and therefore could be present at other locations on the planet, according to analysis by a group of mission scientists led by a University of Michigan professor. This is the first time liquid water has been detected and photographed outside the Earth.

“A large number of independent physical and thermodynamical evidence shows that saline water may actually be common on Mars,” said Nilton Renno, a professor in the U-M Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and a co-investigator on the Phoenix mission. “Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life. This discovery has important implications to many areas of planetary exploration, including the habitability of Mars.”

Renno will present these findings on March 23, 2009 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

Droplets on a leg of the Mars Phoenix lander are seen to darken and coalesce. Nilton Renno, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences says this is evidence that they are made of liquid water. Previously, scientists believed that water existed on Mars only as ice or water vapor because of the planet’s low temperature and atmospheric pressure. They thought that ice in the Red Planet’s current climate could sublimate, or vaporize, but they didn’t think it could melt. This analysis shows how that assumption may be incorrect. Temperature fluctuation in the arctic region of Mars where Phoenix landed and salts in the soil could create pockets of water too salty to freeze in the climate of the landing site, Renno says.

Photos of one of the lander’s legs show droplets that grew during the polar summer. Based on the temperature of the leg and the presence of large amounts of “perchlorate” salts detected in the soil, scientists believe the droplets were most likely salty liquid water and mud that splashed on the spacecraft when it touched down. The lander was guided down by rockets whose exhaust melted the top layer of ice below a thin sheet of soil.

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These images were acquired by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s Surface Stereo Imager on the 21st and 25th days of the mission, or Sols 20 and 24 (June 15 and 18, 2008). These images show sublimation of ice in the trench informally called “Dodo-Goldilocks” over the course of four days. In the lower left corner, lumps disappear, similar to the process of evaporation. Some of the mud droplets that splashed on the lander’s leg appear to have grown by absorbing water from the atmosphere, Renno says. Images suggest that some of the droplets darkened, then moved and merged — physical evidence that they were liquid.

The wet chemistry lab on Phoenix found evidence of perchlorate salts, which likely include magnesium and calcium perchlorate hydrates. These compounds have freezing temperatures of about -90 and -105 Fahrenheit respectively. The temperature at the landing site ranged from approximately -5 to -140 Fahrenheit, with a median temperature around -75 Fahrenheit. Temperatures at the landing site were mostly warmer than this during the first months of the mission.

Thermodynamic calculations offer additional evidence that salty liquid water can exist where Phoenix landed and elsewhere on Mars. The calculations also predicts a droplet growth rate that is consistent with what was observed. And they show that it is impossible for ice to sublimate from the cold ground just under the strut of the lander’s leg and be deposited on a warmer strut, a hypothesis that has been suggested. Certain bacteria on Earth can exist in extremely salty and cold conditions.

acm“This discovery is the result of the talent and dedication of the entire Phoenix team and NASA, whose strategy for Mars exploration and the Phoenix mission is ‘follow the water,’” Renno said.

Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, 2008, and transmitted data back to Earth until Nov. 10. Scientists are still analyzing the information Phoenix gathered. The mission was led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona. Among its preliminary findings, Phoenix verified that water ice exists in the just beneath the surface of Mars. It sent back more than 25,000 photos and deployed the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth. The lander was the first Martian spacecraft to document a mildly alkaline soil and perchlorate salts. It also observed snow falling from clouds on the Red Planet.

A paper on this research, written by Renno and dozens of his colleagues on the Phoenix mission, including principal investigator Peter Smith, is under review at the Journal of Geophysical Research. 

http://www.astrobio.net/news/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3074&theme=Printer

White House Plan Would End Subsidies to Student Lenders

By Alejandro Lazo and Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 27, 2009; A08

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The Obama administration has proposed a sweeping change in the $85 billion-a-year student loan industry, one that could fundamentally alter the business of lenders such as Sallie Mae.

The proposal, included in yesterday’s budget outline, would end a program that pays government subsidies to private student loan companies. The administration said the shift, which would mean that all federal loans would come directly through the government, would save $4 billion annually and $47.5 billion over the next decade.

The changes could be a blow to companies such as Sallie Mae of Reston that receive subsidies to originate federally backed student loans. Shares of Sallie Mae, formally known as SLM Corp., plunged 31 percent yesterday on the news. The profitability of the student loan industry has faltered in recent years, first as Congress cut subsidies and then because of turmoil in the credit markets. Last year, dozens of lenders stopped issuing federally guaranteed loans, prompting concerns about whether students would get the money they needed for college. The Bush administration took several steps to shore up student lenders. 

Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan signaled a shift from that approach, saying the program that subsidizes private lenders is “on life support.”

“Rather than continuing to subsidize banks, we want to help dramatically more students get more access to more aid,” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters. “Big picture . . . We’re going to save about $24 billion dollars over the next five years, and we want to actively invest that money in our students.”

aaaSince the early 1990s, federal student loans have been implemented through two programs. The program that the administration proposes ending, the Federal Family Education Loan Program, uses private-sector lenders such as Sallie Mae and Citigroup to originate and service the education loans, keeping the debt off the government’s books. Under this program, the government pays a subsidy to private lenders. Congress sets the interest rate on loans, and the federal government covers nearly all the losses if a student defaults.

The other program, Direct Loan, is administered by the government and includes student loan debt in the government’s deficit. Under the proposal, this program would handle all federal loans. The approach outlined yesterday echoes one long favored by Democrats. House Education Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who has been a vocal critic of what he has called “corrupt practices” in the student loan industry, said the proposal was a “a solid plan to make federal student loans more reliable while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The proposal to do away with the Federal Family Education Loan Program stunned investors and Wall Street analysts who follow Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender. Loans originated through that program made up about 80 percent of the company’s total student loan portfolio at the end of 2008, with the rest being private loans.

“It could precipitate a collapse of the . . . industry because a lot of the lenders were holding on and hoping to survive until the end of the credit crisis,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the Web site FinAid.org. “But they could pull out completely because if there is no future, then there is no reason to stay.” Under the administration’s proposal, the private sector wouldn’t be completely cut out of the equation. The Education Department would contract with companies to service loans and collect payments. Officials yesterday said they expected some companies that now participate in the loan program to take part in a competitive process to service the loans. Sallie Mae made clear yesterday that it intended to bid for such contracts.

“We also note that the budget proposal looks to obtain ‘high-quality services for students by using competitive, private providers to service loans,’ ” the company said in a statement. “Sallie Mae is the largest and lowest-cost provider of student loan services, and we deliver the highest quality for students, schools and families.

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